Bett's Takes RSS



The Beginnings of a Baking Enthusiast

Right after Maraine was born, I felt strong. I also felt unsure, scared, weary, and all the changing hormones that left me sobbing with gratitude when I took my first lobster-red-hot shower in 10 months (for those who don't know, doctors advise against taking really hot showers while pregnant).  Physically, though, I felt (unexpectedly) strong.  I was in awe of my body and my baby. Maraine and I had persevered through a 26-hour labor and delivery. It was extraordinary: every ounce of physical endurance, intuition, and mental fortitude I needed to push through searing contractions and work with M to bring her into the world. My birth experience gave me a confidence and wisdom of knowing I could do even...

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Deciphering Family Recipes: Jackie's Cookies

I don't want recipes to fade into the pages of a worn-out cookbook or the echoes of a loved one's kitchen.  In some ways, my journey to decipher and recreate family recipes started with Justin's family dishes. I was gifted his grandma Jackie Eslinger’s 1953 Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book after she passed in 2012. When I first opened opened it, I worried the spine would disintegrate, and I would be the clumsy clod responsible for ruining Justin's grandmother's cherished book. Fortunately, the cover has remained intact, and I have spent many years gently exploring this recipe time capsule. This cookbook was obviously published in a very different era. For one thing, it's full of outdated assumptions about who is, or should be, in the kitchen. The intro...

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Holiday Prep and Cheesecake

I recently demonstrated how to make mini cheesecakes in my PCC Desserts class. Cheesecake sometimes lands on dessert tables in the U.S. during this time of year and for holidays. My petite cheesecakes are especially awesome because they are pre-portioned, can be baked and frozen ahead of time, and are versatile. As I prepare for holiday get-togethers, I'm reminded of the ways cooking and baking intersect with what I consider to be some of the most fascinating parts of life: history, culture, science, ongoing learning, connecting with people--and, of course, good food! Cheesecake is a prime example of all this.  History: It's believed that a type of "cheese cake" was first made 4,000 years ago on the Greek Island of Samos. Recipes eventually adapted...

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Recipe: Petite Cheesecakes

Recipe by Elizebett Rocha Bento Eslinger In the Azores Islands, where my family is from, there are many versions of “queijadas” which literally translate to mean “cheesecakes.” However, queijadas are different from a New York-style cheesecake, and they don’t always include cheese. This recipe is more like an American-style cheesecake and draws inspiration from a King Arthur Baking Company recipe. However, I’ve also replaced the cream cheese in this recipe with freshly-made, soft cow cheese--like they do on the Islands--and it’s delicious! There are a lot of ways you can personalize and make this cheesecake recipe to your preference. See the optional toppings at the end of the recipe. This recipe makes 12 small cheesecakes in a muffin tin.  Cheesecake Crust...

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Recipe Tip: Pumpkin Pie without Cracks

  If you have cracks in your pumpkin pie, you might be over-baking it. My favorite tip? Pull your pie from the oven when the pumpkin filling has domed edges and a slightly wobbly (not sloshy or liquid) 4- to 5-inch circular center. Check out the pic below, so you can sort of see what I mean. Your pie will finish setting on the counter with its residual heat. Once completely cooled, your pie will be smooth, cooked through, and free of cracks! Enjoy!  

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